A sharp is defined as any medical instrument that has a sharp point that can cut through the skin. However, not all sharps are only used in medical facilities. Nearly 10 percent of Americans are diabetic and need to use syringes for insulin injections, and many other diseases that require the use of sharps at home. Pets can also be diabetic and require syringes. In many states, it is illegal to dispose of sharps in anything except a sharps container.

Why Are Sharps Containers Important

Sharing needles is often the cause of AIDS (HIV) and other blood-borne infections spreading amongst intravenous drug users. For this same reason, it is essential to place used sharps into sharps containers in order to prevent spreading infection from needle injuries to medical personnel.

Different Sharps Containers

A sharps container is a term for a specially-made container that is used for medical needles and other sharp medical instruments. There are two different types of sharps containers:

Single-use sharps containers

Single-use sharps containers are disposed of along with the waste inside.

Reusable sharps containers

Reusable sharps containers are robotically emptied and sterilized before being returned for re-use.

Examples of Sharps

  • Needles, syringes, lancets, broken glass with blood on it
  • Suture needles, scalpel blades, butterflies
  • Vacutainer tubes
  • Phlebotomy needles with vacutainer tube holder attached
  • Capillary tubes
  • IV catheters
  • Dental anesthetic capsules with blood
  • Dental wires and endodontic files
  • Other sharp objects contaminated with blood, such as box cutters or knives
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